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RealTime Economic Issues Watch

In RealTime posts, PIIE senior staff and colleagues discuss the fast-moving economic news, financial developments, and public policy choices confronting the United States and the world.

Recent Posts

A Path Forward for Greece

by | January 30th, 2015 | 10:23 am

The people of Greece have spoken, loud and clear, by delivering a resounding victory to Syriza, the left-wing party that won the election last weekend: After suffering five years of economic depression and a massive fiscal tightening (the level of government spending has been cut by 50 percent since 2009), the Greek people cannot stomach […]

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Greece’s Problem: Persistent Fiscal Irresponsibility and Too Few Reforms

by | January 29th, 2015 | 05:28 pm

The victory of the extreme left-wing party Syriza in the Greek parliamentary elections on January 25 is a wake-up moment. The outcome of the ensuing economic policy discussion is likely to be decisive for Europe for a long time. Two opposing views were recently published in the Financial Times illustrating the dilemma facing the region. […]

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How Greek Citizens Saw Their Government Services Curtailed

by and Jan Zilinsky | January 29th, 2015 | 01:06 pm

It is generally understood that Greece has undertaken a major fiscal adjustment since the beginning of the crisis that engulfed it. But the scale and speed of the decline in government expenditures do not seem to be fully recognized, despite the close attention devoted to Greece by the press in recent years. In part, this […]

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Sex, Oil, and the Ruble

by | January 28th, 2015 | 12:32 pm

In the last few weeks, a start-up called Russian Zen has become the most visited internet site in Moscow. No, it isn’t a spiritual site. Quite the contrary. On a background of sparsely-clad women and soothing tantric music, three numbers flash on the screen: the real-time ruble to dollar exchange rate, the ruble to euro […]

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China and India: Who Will Win the Growth Competition?

by and Jan Zilinsky | January 28th, 2015 | 08:51 am

India’s economic promise is at the forefront of public interest, with President Obama’s visit a few days ago. Will India’s economy finally grow faster than China’s? According to the January 2015 update of the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook, the growth rate of India’s real GDP will overtake China’s in 2016, sooner than previously […]

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Greece Has Chosen, but It Doesn’t Get to Decide by Itself

by | January 26th, 2015 | 05:57 pm

The radical leftist party Syriza won the election in Greece on Sunday with 36 percent of the vote, propelled by a campaign demanding an end to tough austerity measures imposed from on high in return for its rescue from insolvency. Together with the Independent Greeks party (ANEL), Syriza is now poised to form a Greek […]

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Is Foreign Ownership of Banks Problematic for Eastern Europe?

by | January 26th, 2015 | 10:23 am

Last week’s request by two Greek banks for a €5 billion emergency assistance from the European Central Bank rang alarm bells. Not just in Greece, where the economy has barely gotten off the ground after six consecutive years of falling GDP, but also across several Eastern European countries, where Greek banks have a significant share […]

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How Long Will the Global Oil Glut Last?

by | January 22nd, 2015 | 10:14 am

The decline in oil prices to less than $50 per barrel should not be a surprise. The surprise is how long oil prices stayed above $100 per barrel when supply and demand fundamentals could no longer support such a price. Given the supply outlook, oil prices will likely remain below $50 per barrel for some […]

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Bulgaria: Slayer of Russian Energy Projects

by | January 21st, 2015 | 01:59 pm

In the past three years, Bulgaria has been slaying large Russian energy projects at the pace of one a year. In 2012, it was the Belene nuclear power plant—started in the distant 1988 and dragging along until the Borisov government, in which I was minister of finance and deputy prime minister, killed it off. In […]

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The ECB’s Coming New Stance on QE

by | January 20th, 2015 | 01:51 pm

For months I have argued that the European Central Bank (ECB) is not likely to move quickly toward new monetary stimulus, including the purchase of sovereign bonds. I have now shifted my expectations. I believe that at its next meeting, the ECB will likely commence a broad based asset purchase program, including euro area sovereign […]

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